Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Week of Mouth-Watering Vegetarian Meals (Mostly Vegan!)

Maple and White Pepper Tempeh, Turmeric Rice, Roasted Onions, Yellow Pear Tomatoes from the garden and Broccoli and String Bean Salad with Tahini Sauce

The baked tempeh is an adaptation of Isa Moskowitz's original recipe for Smokey Tempeh in her comprehensive and essential cookbook Veganomicon. We roast the tempeh in the oven along with thick-cut rings of sweet onion.

Cafe Drake HRV's Ensalada de Cocinero (Chef's Salad) is assembled from Side Yard Garden Greens, Radishes, Cucumbers, Yellow Pear and Honey Drop Tomatoes, Spiced Tostados, Chipotle Deviled Eggs and Potatoes in a Vinaigrette.

Our chipotle deviled eggs are beyond addictive. When reaching for the third, or fourth, we usually remember to start thinking of them as cholesterol bombs. It's a little trick and it works. A couple certainly won't kill you so basically, just hard-boil the eggs, scoop the yolks into a bowl and mix with 3 parts mayo to one part ketchup, season boldly with chipotle pepper powder and smoked paprika, add a drop or two of hot sauce and mix well and re-stuff.

Baked corn tortillas are so versatile and can be used for tostados or in place of crackers or crisp breads. Or break them into pieces for homemade chips. Place the tortillas in a single layer on a large baking sheet and brush both sides with olive oil. Drizzle with salt and whatever spices you like. Bake in a 400 degree F. oven for approximately 6 minutes per side. Check often to make sure they don't burn.

Raiding the garden for dinner is an early evening summertime ritual at Cafe Drake HRV.

Frying tofu, even the extra-firm kind, can be a hassle if you don't want the bean curd crumbly and falling apart. A foolproof method is to cut firm tofu into cubes, toss very very gently with vegetable oil, sprinkle with salt and bake for 15 minutes. Flip the cubes and bake for another 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Then add the crispy cubes to whatever you're preparing. In the photo above, we prepared the tofu as described then added to stir-fried carrots and assorted bell and chile peppers. In the last minute of cooking, the tofu went in along with soy sauce, lime juice, some brown sugar and plenty of Thai basil and cilantro.

Tofu with a Soy Chili Sauce, Millet, Baby Lettuces, Cashews and Cucumbers

Blessed blessed leftovers for lunch!

Homemade seitan, in this version, is steamed, not simmered in broth. The texture is a bit denser and ideal for hardier meals.

Cauliflower Cheese, Rye Toast and Tossed Salad seems like a quintessential Nursery Meal. So comforting.

The erstwhile English classic dish, Cauliflower Cheese, is a humble meal so divine it's a staple as well for finicky Brit gourmands. To make it, par-boil large florets of cauliflower and drain. Make a basic white sauce and add grated sharp Cheddar cheese. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower and bake in a 350 degree F. oven for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with salt white pepper before serving, ground nutmeg as well if desired.
We get so bored eating brown rice or millet or quinoa more than twice a week. Venturing out of that safety zone of predictable starchy sides inspires entire meals constructed around a novelty ingredient. For example, buckwheat soba noodles can be served cold with a tangy soy dressing or spicy peanut sauce, or piping hot in a comforting bowl of soup. At Cafe Drake HRV this week, in addition to the usual suspects mentioned above, our carbs came from sources as diverse as savory Dill and Chive Scones, a Rye Bread Pudding, whole wheat couscous and corn tortillas.

Cold Soba Noodles tossed with Sesame Dressing, Micro-Greens, Chickpeas, Baked Tofu, Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Onions and Shiso Leaves

A phobia of combining starches in the same meal, say, rice with potatoes, is a pure Western irrationality. Indian, Japanese and Middle Eastern cuisines often feature two to three starches on the same plate. And for that matter, ever eaten garlic bread with spaghetti and meatballs? Thought so. Above, Roasted Sweet Potato Spears melded beautifully on the palette with starchy buckwheat noodles. If like us, you like your oven fries crispy on the outside and creamy inside, just cut them into wedges, toss with olive oil, salt and any seasoning you like (cumin + cayenne is a good combo, as is smoked paprika + cinnamon + garlic powder) and roast on a baking sheet, for about 25 minutes total in a 400 degree F. oven. Flip them halfway through cooking and keep an eye on the "fries" during the last few minutes of cooking. They do burn easily.

A torta, or Mexican-style sandwich, is a lifesaver for lazy cooks who happen to be hungry right now.

Ah, summer. Salad, torta and guacamole.

It's hard to not love a torta, or, Mexican sandwich. It's that basic and open to invention but the most commonplace components include a schmear of refried beans, cheese, cilantro and sliced jalapenos. The torta seen above was thrown together from leftovers in 3 minutes. We spread a thin layer of refried black beans on a whole wheat roll, topped with roasted eggplant and red bell pepper and sliced white Cheddar cheese. Popped it under the broiler until the bread began to crisp and the cheese melted, decorated with cilantro and chilies and devoured alongside guacamole and a fresh green salad.

At Cafe Drake HRV sauces, salsas, relishes and chutneys enliven most meals. Above, pan-toasted pecans and garlic were pureed with toasted chiles de arbol to make a nutty sauce that enhanced quesadillas, rice and steamed veggies.

Another salsa, and one we make almost every week during the warm months, is just broiled tomatillos, serrano chilies, garlic and onion. Again, it all goes in a blender (with cilantro, salt and lime juice) to be whirled into a spicy, tangy salsa.
A Southwestern, chile-flecked spoon bread before baking.

Puffed, hot and ready to dive into.

Spoon Bread with salad, coleslaw and the two salsas mentioned above.

Tomatillo Salsa
Both of those salsas, along with a traditional tomato version, brought excitement to an otherwise subtly flavored dinner of rice, black beans and steamed vegetables.

Pecan and Chile de Arbol Salsa. Get this recipe + the one for the tomatillo salsa HERE.



Chickpea Cutlets, Chimichurri Sauce, Salad and Greek Potatoes

A gift from the garden that keeps giving - Microgreens. Try mounding just a few atop sandwiches or soups, or decorate an entree with a "green tangle." Snipping the young shoots just above the soil line keeps them growing and returning for weeks on end.

The Eclecticism of Leftovers.

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